"Sometimes when you're young, you have moments of such happiness, you think you're living in someplace magical, like Atlantis must have been? then we grow up and our hearts break into two." So says Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins), the affable, but curious new tenant in the duplex where eleven-year-old Bobby Garfield (Anton Yelchin) lives with his border-line neglectful mother, Liz (Hope Davis). Together, they make an unlikely pair: a bright-eyed young boy with a fear of cooties and a middle-aged gentleman with a love for literature and root beer. As time passes, however, Bobby develops a deep fondness for Ted, whom he sees as a replacement for the father who died six years ago. In the course of their friendship, Ted divulges to Bobby that he is being pursued by individuals known as The Low Men, "who move in packs like animals closing in for the kill - and cast long shadows." Although he is doubtful about this odd revelation, Bobby cannot deny that there is something extraordinary about his new friend and is hardly surprised when he discovers that Ted's bizarre intuition is due to his pyschic ability to see into other's minds. Ted's powers eventually rub off on Bobby, who comes to believe in the Low Men and is determined to keep them away from Ted, whom they seek to participate in a clandestine political operation.
Hearts in Atlantis is but one in a very long line of successful adaptations based on the novels of Stephen King, the commander in chief of the horror genre. Other adaptations include the Oscar-nominated films The Green Mile (starring Tom Hanks and David Morse) and The Shawshank Redemption (which lost to Forrest Gump for Best Picture at the 1994 Academy Awards). Hearts in Atlantis received minimal praise on the awards circuit, despite a subtle but brilliant performance by Anthony Hopkins whose character, Ted Braudigan, would say that The Silence of the Lambs was the film "by which all others in (his) life will be judged . . . and found wanting." Anton Yelchin's whimsical portrayal of Bobby Garfield is commendable, but not exceptional, and set the stage for thirteen years worth of other commendable performances in films such as Alpha Dog and Terminator Salvation. Mika Boorem's performance as Bobby's best friend and love interest, Carol Gerber, and David Morse's performance as the adult Bobby are all that's praiseworthy from an otherwise intrusive supporting cast. Overall, an absorbing coming-of-age film that Hopkins and King fans should see for the sake of viewing the talent of two extraordinary men on the film and literary circuits.